The Constitution (Eighth Amendment) Act, 1959

In this Constitutional amendment the duration of reservation of seats in Lok Sabha and State Legislative Assemblies for Scheduled Castes, Scheduled Tribes and Anglo-Indians was extended until 1970. The Constitution of India allows for its amendment in order to change according to evolving situations and requirements, just like all other existing constitutions around the world. Ever since the Constitution of India was enacted in 1950 there have been 104 amendments till January 2020. There are basically three types of amendments to the Indian Constitution, out of which the second and third categories of amendments are governed by Article 368. 

The first category of amendment requires that it will be passed by a "simple majority" in each House of the Indian Parliament. The second category of amendment requires that it must be enacted by the Parliament by a prescribed "strong majority" in each House. The third category of amendment involves those which include ratification by minimum one half of the State Legislature.

The powers of Parliament to amend the Constitution and its procedure are covered by Article 368 of Part XX of the Constitution. This provides that, in compliance with the process for the reason set down, Parliament can amend the Constitution by inserting, updating or removing any clause. Parliament cannot however amend provisions that constitute the basic structure of the Indian Constitution. 

In order to extend the reservation for seats for the Scheduled Castes and the Scheduled Tribes and the Anglo-Indian  to Lok Sabha and the State Legislative Assemblies for ten years, i.e. to 26 January 1970, the Eighth Amendment to the Constitution of India, formally referred to as the Constitution (the Eighth Amendment), Act of 1959 amending Section 334 of the Constitution. Article 334 stipulated a period of ten years after the Constitution was formed (i.e. 26 January 1960) for reservation of seats to expire.

The eighth amendment prolonged the reservation until 1970. The reservation term has been expanded by the 23rd, 45th, 62nd, 79th, 95th and 104th amendments in 1980, 1990, 2000, 2010, 2020 and 2030.

Proposal and enactment

Article 334 of the Constitution specifies the provisions of the Constitution pertaining to the allocation of seats for the Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes and the Anglo-Indian group, through election to the House of the People and legislative assemblies of the States,  cease to have any effect on the expiry  of 10 years from the commencement of the Constitution. According to the Objects and Reasons attached to the proposed amendment, the factors that affected the Constituent Assembly in making way for the allocation and election of seats and representatives had, while they had advanced considerably in recent years, not ceased to exist. 

This was also suggested to limit the number of these representatives who could be elected by the Governors to the State Assemblies, by increasing the nomination period of leaders of the Anglo-Indian group, and a reform to Article 333 was therefore introduced. 

Passed in Lok Sabha on 16 November 1959 by constitution (eighth amendment) Act of 1959 (Bill No. 79 of 1959). This was initiated by then Home Affairs Minister Pandit Govind Ballabh Pant and aimed at amending Articles 333 and 334.

On 30 November and 1 December, the bill was addressed by Lok Sabha. An initiative aiming to change Article 333 of the Constitution for implementing clause 2 of the bill, struggled to obtain a plurality of the total number of Representatives (though more than two thirds of the representatives present and voting had voted in support of the motion). The Bill omitted the said provision. In its original form, Lok Sabha adopted on 1 December, Clause 3 of the Bill that aimed to modify Article 334. The legislation was passed by the House on 1 December 1959, in regard to clause 2. Clause 3 was then re-numbered as paragraph 2, and on 7 December the Rajya Sabha bill was accepted and adopted

The Bill was signed on 5 January 1960 by President Rajendra Prasad following ratification by the States, and entered into force on the same day. On 6 January 1960, it was published in The Gazette of India. 


The Act was enacted by over half of the State Legislatures, as provided by clause ( 2) thereof, in accordance with Article 368 of the Constitution.. State Legislatures that ratified the amendment are as follows:

Andhra Pradesh, Assam, Bombay, Madras, Mysore, Orissa, Punjab, Rajasthan, Uttar Pradesh, and West Bengal.

The state legislatures that did not ratify the amendments are: Bihar, Jammu and Kashmir, Kerala and Madhya Pradesh.